iJackie’ New Soul

Depth of Soul
by Wilbur Witt

In 2010 Jackie put down iJackie, stepped behind the camera and produced a series of videos revealing a depth of soul that even surprised me. Her knowledge of life and song, combined with imagination was surprising. She comprised the videos, sometimes with my help, showing her how to achieve effects known only to her mind. New Soul was showing the continuity of life and family. In each successive scene the people get older and older until the final part where the funeral is displayed, then it goes right back to the beginning to start all over again. This video is very poinant because it was during this time she was actually losing her children to the CPS. She retreated into her spirit and tried to show the feelings she was experiencing during thus traumatic time. The film draws victory from defeat, gain from loss, and hope from despair.

A lot of her work during this time has been unfortunately lost, but as I search I find them here and there. Mostly, she did these alone, but once in a while she’d ask me how to effect a scene. Her work shows the evolution from a 17 year old girl to an accomplished director with a message for the world. Love, family, and mother’s rights. One small voice in the crown.

http://youtu.be/YHilNDn5fVE

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All The Eggs In The World

by Wilbur Witt

Back in ’94 I got up one Sunday morning in my office on Westend Avenue in Nashville. I’d done a show at Pennington’s Lounge out on Briley Expressway the night before, and ended the night, or rather welcomed the morning, at the Nashville Palace eating catfish. My Nashville experience was dragging along like so many others. I had an album, but is was comedy, and I was still going head to head with the heavy hitters on Music Square. I hadn’t come to the realization as yet that the album I’d cut as a joke would end up being my saving grace. My serious songs simply would not sell, and I simply would not accept that. The people on the Square wouldn’t even accept a copy of my latest love song, but they would PAY for a copy of my funny ones.

I left the building and began to work my way down Westend to Shoney’s where they had a cheap breakfast, which was nice because it fit right in with songwriters like me. As I walked I heard the bells from the Westend Catholic Church ringing in the distance, and the line from an old Johnny Cash classic came to me, “Down the road I heard a lonely church bell ringing.” As I crossed the street there was a little park, near the Country Music Hall Of Fame, and in that park, just like the song, there was a man swinging a laughing little girl. I stopped.

The man who brought me to Nashville had two daughters. They were both under five years old. The older one was chubby, and made great sport of pushing her younger, smaller sister around. He lived just off Music Square so I easily walked over to his house and asked if I could take the youngest to breakfast. Soon she was riding on my shoulders on her way to Shoney’s. When we got there I sat her down and told her she could eat anything she wanted. Her older sister would steal from her plate at every chance. She looked around and saw the food buffet.

“I want eggs.”

“That’s all?” I asked her.

“Yes.”

“You can have anything you want.”

“I want all the eggs in the world!”

She ate eggs for an hour. I took her home. Time and years went by. In 2010 this same little girl was living with me. She had a horrendous marriage to my son which cost her all of her children. The emotional roller coaster ride had landed her in the state hospital. She had lived in alleys in Detroit, and mansions in Austin, but to look at her you couldn’t tell it. After the kids, her husband, and my wife were gone we found ourselves living together in the lonely big house in Berry Creek she called it a “Pretty Prison.” She had been quite successful on Youtube, but by now the muse had fled, and she was a broken, lonely young mother, missing her life

One morning I decided to treat her. I told her I wanted to take her to breakfast at IHop! She’d never been to an IHop, and was very excited. She even got dressed for the occasion. A girl that ate at a country club was beside herself about a trip to IHop!

We walked in and she looked at the menu. I told her the cafe was famous for its pancakes. What would she like? She looked up from the menu and said, “I want all the eggs in the world.”

“You remember that?”

“Yes.”

I sat there and enjoyed watching iJackie eating, “all the eggs in the world.”

Why I Made The Light Shine Video

Why I Made the Light Shine Video
by Wilbur Witt

My nephew sent me a song. He has a band, and they have been developing their sound over the last few months, sending me clips, and to be honest I haven’t heard them turn out anything bad yet! But this song struck me. The young man, Curtis Hooper, was sitting in a garage. In the beginning of the piece there is thunder, and at first I thought it had been mixed in until I remembered that we had just had storms a few days before and I noticed Curtis is sitting in a garage, which was classic!

His voice is riveting, reminiscent of John Fogarty, but not imitating. As he elevates the volume he slides into an old Memphis whiskey sound which punctuates and emphasizes the impact of what he’s saying. And what he’s saying is profound! The song is blended perfectly. It begins simply, like a prayer. From there it crescendos into into a perfect hook, “You can tread on me,” which sets up the title line of the piece. When Sean sent me the song he titled it, “Overcome,” but when I heard the song the very first time I knew the title had to be, “Let The Light Shine (On My Face).” This was the only edit I saw needed, and that came from my years in Austin and Nashville. I thought the title “Overcome” somehow diminished the power of Curtis’ voice when he sang those words.

The song does a perfect round, returning to its core concept once more, not laboring the refrain, but reinforcing it perfectly. The only guitar rift, if you can call it that, is at the very end and Curtis reinforces the theme of the song as it fades out.

When I heard the song I heard all these things. It was a master piece of songwriting. When you’ve heard, and written as many songs as I have you endure most of them, but I couldn’t stop listening to this one. The video that came with it was a simple one. Curtis was sitting in a garage. The mix was fairly good, even though I know it was a demo, I had no complaints.

Jackie didn’t pop into my head at first, I was going to just improve the imaging. I was so overcome by the song i was focused on Curtis, but then, as I worked on it and listened to what the song was really saying, I realized the anguish of the human condition was so there, weaved into the fabric of the lyrics that it was like a subliminal message to the soul. At that point I thought of Jackie’s story, but I didn’t think just placing the old pictures of her with her daughter would do justice to this song. I began to search my photos, and some of them leaped out at me. As Curtis sang, “You can tread on me” the first time, I put in a still frame of Jackie cocking her gun and winking at the camera. The classic defiant seventeen year old girl, ready to take on the world, with a full life ahead of her expressed all the exuberance of youth. With the words, “Let the light shine on my face,” she appears in a dark business suit, heading for court, a court that would intimately destroy her life. The next image is to the line, ” I will win this race,” and she is looking at images on a cell phone, pictures of her children that she would never be allowed to see again. Her smile belies the pain in her eyes, and she is pregnant with the child that would be ripped off her breast at birth.

With the line, “The writing on the wall” is sang we see the image of a twenty one year old woman, aged, and resigned. Curtis returns to the title line, and while he sings, “Let the light shine on my face,” he reinforces the resolve of the singer to overcome adversity, and as he does, iJackie cocks her gun and symbolically fires it at an unfeeling world.

The marriage of song and image is perfect. You don’t even have to know Jackie’s story to realize there’s something very emotional there, emphasized by the soul of the song so beautifully delivered by Curtis. This song gives me the same feeling that I get when I listen to Dylan singing “Times They Are A Changing.” Without going into a rant about the injustice Jackie endured, suffice to say this song, and this video expresses the heartbreak and resolve of all young mothers who miss their babies. Sometimes, in the vastness of the universe, two perfect notes are sung, and two souls merge for a brief moment to give the rest if us a heart rending message. Curtis and Jackie gave us such a moment, and we all should give them our appreciation. Thank you guys.